The Wimmera and Grampians could have different levels of restrictions to other parts of regional Victoria, but it won't happen straight away.
In a regional press conference staged over Zoom on Wednesday, the Premier said the regions needed to move to lighter restrictions as one at first.
Regional Victoria will see some restrictions ease from Sunday, but there will still be limitations on leaving home and trading until the daily average number of cases in the last 14 days in regional Victoria is less than five, and there are zero "mystery" cases of transmission.
There were seven new cases recorded in regional Victoria on Wednesday.
"If we were proposing that regional Victoria wouldn't take the second or third step for six or eight weeks, I think we would have almost certainly gone to different zones and tried to be as generous as possible," Mr Andrews said.
"You are always best to try and move as one, and to have the simplest, easiest and most enforceable rules."
Mr Andrews said the Government could treat regional areas differently depending on new case numbers.
"If Geelong, for instance, was holding back the rest of regional Victoria, we might need a special treatment for that region," he said.
"On current trends, that won't be something we have to do, but that is the logical place that if we do different zones... it's probably guided by Geelong, that's what the experts tell us."
On case numbers rising as regional Victoria reopens
Mr Andrews said regional Victoria would not automatically revert back to step one of restrictions easing if mystery case numbers started to rise.
"Part of this strategy is to drive numbers down to a low level and keep them (there). This is not a New Zealand strategy where if you get one case you have to lock the place down again," he said.
"If we got to the 13th day of a 14-day period and there were seven cases, and they were well contained, you could still take that next step.
"It would only be if you lost control, a handful of mystery cases would not mean you lost control. I think we could be confident that we would put a ring around it and say: "This is significant, but it's contained, and on that basis the broad settings don't need to change'.
"If it was a school, the school would still close and be deep-cleaned, if it was at a meatworks it would be closed."
"Even when we open up, there will still be rules. There will still need to be COVID-safe plans in workplaces, and masks will be in place for quite some time."
On sole traders
Responding to Western Victorian MP Stuart Grimley's letter asking if more regional sole traders could reopen when step two began on Sunday, Mr Andrews said many businesses would be able to open if new regional case numbers stayed as low as they currently were.
"I think there is every chance regional Victoria doesn't just take one step," he said.
"If you look at the threshold of no more than five a day for 14 days... We are talking about a whole lot of different businesses open, so no limits on shopping, real estate back to pretty much normal, retail open. Other beauty and personal care remain closed though but once a further step is taken, they would be allowed to open.
"The best thing we can do is wait and see when those thresholds are met in the immediate aftermath of that easing."
On the next bushfire season
"The forecasts are for significant spring rain, so that's both good and bad," Mr Andrews said.
"I want to reassure everyone across regional Victoria there is a lot of hard work going in to make sure we are ready for another fire season.
"It gets really personal and granular in some ways: We are having a close look at what the restrictions might mean for people travelling from Melbourne to regional Victoria to clean up their property to prepare for bushfires. All those sorts of things are being looked at."
On the 'social bubble' for people living alone
Mr Andrews said Melburnians could not nominate a person from regional Victoria as the one that could visit their home during the lockdown.
"We are trying to limit the amount of travel that occurs between regional and metropolitan Victoria," he said.
Mr Andrews said Victoria would have " a very strong case to mount" for more federal government support for workers, once the JobKeeper fortnightly payment is lowered from $1500 to $1200 from September 28.
"The Prime Minister and federal Treasurer have been very clear for a long time that hardship drives their policy settings, and there is no question there is very significant hardship in communities across the state," he said.
Mr Andrews said the Government would make announcements soon on further rounds of state government emergency support.
On investing in regional Victoria long-term
Mr Andrews said he expected to see more people make a choice to move regionally as a result of the pandemic in Victoria.
He said "an enormous amount" of work was going on behind the scenes to create a skills-focused package
"There will be announcements made later in the year in the lead-up to the budget. It will be the biggest program of stimulus and economic investment this state has ever seen," he said.
"I know better than some that have had this job that the power of the Government's investment can often be greater the further away from Melbourne you are. If we are playing our part to underplay confidence in demand... that can make a massive difference."
Mr Andrews dismissed as "wrong" the perception government spending stopped at Geelong, Ballarat and Bendigo.
"This package will be spread across the board to make sure everyone benefits from it. Does that mean a town of 5000 will get the same amount of money as a town of 50 or 100,000? We will make the investments where they make sense," he said.
What others have said
In the days following lockdown, the Wimmera's state representatives slammed the restrictions, calling for different approaches for communities with low or no active case numbers.
Member for Ripon Louise Staley said: "Its time for Daniel Andrews to treat regional Victorians as more than one undifferentiated mass. What's right for Donald, where there's never been a case, is different to Colac, where there are still new cases occurring."
Member for Lowan Emma Kealy said: "If you look at the thresholds the Government has set, much of country Victoria meets them, but we face the prospect of ongoing lockdowns due to outbreaks on the other side of the state.
"Over recent weeks I've been dealing with many business people who are just hanging on and looking for a way out. Some have already closed, others are teetering."
Northern Victoria MP Wendy Lovell said: "Most Northern Victorian LGA's haven't seen a new case for at least 14 days. We need to reopen restaurants, small businesses such as personal trainers, personal services and shuttered shops.
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